AWARDS OF THE PAST DECADE
Ok, 2009 is over, and so is the entire decade.
So you know what that means? Every sports publication, Web site and network will be posting their images, moments, teams and players of the decade. And guess what, so will I!
Last time this happened was way back in 1999, I was only 15-years-old. A few friends and I wrote down all our awards but I never had the chance to express them quite like this.
Here goes, list of the best of the best from this past decade of sports. And remember, do not be afraid to disagree with me or agree.
Either way, comments are much appreciated!
Teams of the Decade
NHL- 2000-09 - Detroit Red Wings & New Jersey Devils
Both teams made the playoffs every season this past decade and both went to the Stanley Cup Finals three times and went 2-1 respectively.
The Devils for the most part dominated the first couple years of the decade while Detroit bookended their best hockey at the beginning and end of the decade.
I do admit hockey is the sport I follow the least, but I do follow it, especially every time the playoffs start. I just think here you can't really go wrong with either of these two teams being the team of the decade, but I am splitting it betweent the two.
NHL- Single Season - 2006-2007 Anaheim Ducks
They had the best overall playoff record of the decade going 16-5 during the 2006-2007 Playoffs. They only had the fifth best points total but only eight total points seperated these five teams, so I looked at who had the most dominate playoff run. That would be the Ducks.
This was huge for the franchise to win their first Stanley Cup in only their 13th season.
NBA- 00-09 - LA Lakers
This one is too easy in my book: The Lakers won four NBA titles this decade and also went two more times. So the six appearances in 10 years easily proves that they were the best team of the decade.
Although they did not make the playoffs in 2005, that one year of rebuilding would be taken by any fan any day, just look at the Knicks?
NBA- Single Season - 2000-2001 LA Lakers
This was a toughy because their 56 wins was no where near the top of the decade, but more importantly I think, they went 15-1 in the postseason when no other team lost less than seven games in a single postseason this decade.
You can argue and say that the '99-'00 Lakers, the '07-'08 Celtics or even this past year's Laker team who won more regular season games, deserve it, but I'm sticking with the '00-'01 Lakers and their domination throughout the playoffs that year!
MLB- 2000 through 2009 - NY Yankees
Won the World Series to start the decade in 2000 and to end it in 2009 (quite the bookend). Also they went to the World Series in 2001(lost in seven) and 2003(lost in six). They made the postseason in every season but 2008 and easily won the most games of any MLB team during the decade.
MLB- Single Season - 2009 NY Yankees
I know you may say, "Well is this the best team? They are the freshest in your mind, but are you sure?"
Well, to start off, they were the only team this decade to win 100 games and with the World Series. They had to win a playoff series for the first time since '04, and more importantly, had to beat an Angels team they couldn't beat at all this decade (regular season or playoffs).
Then, they had to beat one of the if not the best N.L team this decade and stop them from repeating.
The 2004 Red Sox also have a case because of the fact that they finally "broke the curse" but I would put them a close second out of this past decade.
NFL- 2000 Through 2009 - New England Patriots
Another very easy decision here.
The Patriots won three Super Bowls this past decade and lost one. Going to the big game four times in 10 seasons has almost become unthinkable in today's NFL.
The parity in the NFL now is so crazy you have teams like the Raiders who actually went to a Super Bowl this decade and also have become one of the laughing stocks of the league of late, or a team like the Dallas Cowboys who did have successful seasons but didn't win one playoff game.
So that makes what the Patriots have done so much more meaningful this decade and easily puts them at the top. They only missed the playoffs twice this decade, and once was before Tom Brady was the starter and another was when Tom Brady missed the entire season (and the Pats still went 11-5 and missed out).
NFL- Single Season - 2003 New England Patriots
It would have been a no-brainer if the 2007 Pats would have won that Super Bowl against the Giants and went 19-0 but they didn't. Therefore, I will take the '03 Pats who went 14-2 in the regular season and finished out with a 17-2 record including a Super Bowl win. This was by far the best Super Bowl winning team's record this past decade.
NCAA Football- 2000 through 2009 - USC Trojans
Pete Carroll simply dominated this decade. USC only won one BCS Championship but split another National Title with LSU in 2003. The two titles ties them with LSU and Florida for the most of decade.
If it wasn't for a monumental comeback by Vince Young and the Texas Longhorns in the 2005 National Championship game, then they would have won an unprecedented three titles in a row. USC also they had three Heisman Trophy winners during this decade.
NCAA Football- Single Season - 2001 Miami Hurricanes
Yes, the Hurricanes went 12-0 that year and four other teams had better records but this team will go down as one of the best college football teams of all time.
All the NFL talent produced by this team is incredible. Some of the more notable players that are playing in the NFL include Clinton Portis, Jeremy Shockey, Andre Johnson, Bryant McKinnie, Jonathon Vilma, Frank Gore and Ed Reed. Try and beat that!
NCAA Basketball- 2000 through 2009 - Duke Blue Devils
The Blue Devils (here he goes again picking one of his teams) you might say?
But all I have to say is, as much as sports are all about winning the championship, I believe that when you are looking at NCAA basketball teams in a bunch of years as we are here, with team of the decade it's about more than championships.
It's about making the NCAA Tournament every single season as Duke did.
It's about total wins for the decade in which Duke's 291 was No. 1 overall in the nation.
It's about conference tournament titles, in which Duke won seven out of 10.
Yes, they only won one national and went to two Final Fours.
If you look at the other teams, you could argue their downsides.
UNC and Florida both had their struggles: UNC in the first part of the decade not even making the NCAA Tourney in '01-'02 and '02-'03 and Florida. which struggled after winning back-to-back championships and did not make the NCAA Tourney the last two seasons of the decade.
The other two teams in which I think would finish a very close second and third behind Duke, is Kansas and Michigan St. Both made the NCAA Tournament every season just as Duke did and both won one national title.
Kansas's 282 wins were the second most in the nation, but the reason I keep Duke ahead of them is because only Duke, Michigan St, and Florida had the same coach for all 10 seasons.
So as you can see I have told you my Top 5 and I will get arguments for each of those teams, but I still believe when it's all said and done, you will look at all the numbers that the Duke Blue Devils had and agree they're the best team of the decade.
NCAA Basketball- Single Season - 2006 - 2007 Florida Gators
The pressure this team had to deal with all year trying to be the first team to repeat since the 91-92 Duke teams was enough to tell you how good they were.
They went 35-5; they started and ended the season No. 1 in the polls; and they won all six NCAA Tourney games by seven points or more.
This team wasn't that much better than the '00-'01 Blue Devils, the Tarheel championship teams, or even the '03-'04 Uconn Huskies, but the pressure to repeat and dominate for the course of the season just nudges them ahead of the rest of squads aforementioned as the best team of the decade.
The Top 5 players of the decade by Sport
5. Sidney Crosby & Alex Ovechkin
A tie. Both players obvioulsy were too young to play the entire decade but the two stars have almost singlehandedly saved the NHL by becoming two of the greatest athletes in sports today.
Crosby has had 397 points this decade and Ovechkin has had 420 (leading the league twice in goals and once in points).
While Ovechkin has also won the individual awards, Crosby has shined in the playoffs leading the Penguins to two Stanley Cup Finals and one Stanley Cup Championship.
4. Scott Niedermayer
Niedermayer has 415 total points for the decade and he won the Conn Smythe in 2007 and the Norris Trophy in 2003-2004. He will go down as an all-time great defensemen who also won two Stanley Cup Championships.
3. Chris Pronger
Pronger has 420 total points for the decade, and had one of the most dominant postseason runs ever in 2006 winning the Con Smythe in a losing effort.
Pronger won one Stanley Cup this decade and will also go down as one of the best defensemen of all time.
2. Martin Brodeur
He was by far the best goalie of the decade and cemented his place as one of the best of all time as well. He won four Vezina Trophies as the NHL's best goalie. No other goalie even won more than one.
He also won two Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils and now has the shutout record for goalies including 65 this past decade.
1. Nicklas Lidstrom
He dominated the decade. When only two of the top six are offensive players it shows you that this was a defensive decade and Lidstrom was the best of the best.
Lidstrom had 574 total points. He won the Stanley Cup twice with the Red Wings, including the Con Smythe in 01-02. However, most impressive is that he has won six Norris Trophies, which is only third all-time to Doug Harvey's seven and Bobby Orr's eight.
5. Lebron James
Not much to say here. James is probably one of the two best players in the game right now, and on pace to be possibly one of the five best of all time.
He didn't arrive until 2003 so that might be his only downfall besides not winning an NBA Title so far in his young career.
Other than that, James has been nothing but great so far in his career and belongs in the Top 5 players just edging out Wade, Nash and Dirk.
4. Shaquille O'Neal
The first three years of this decade Shaq may have been one of the most dominant players of all time, but the last seven his play dropped off; that is why he is not higher on my list.
You cannot take away the fact that Shaq won four NBA Championships and went to one more.
3. Kevin Garnett
Another great player of the decade but this one needed to come out of his shell in Minnesota. He he didn't seem to get much notice or award votes there but he woke up in Boston.
Overall, he did make the NBA All-Defensive team every year of the decade and won the Defensive Player of the year in 2008 as a Celtic. He also made First Team All-NBA eight times and won one NBA title this decade with the Celtics.
2. Kobe Bryant
Bryant definitley was the most-watched and probably will go down as the most memorable player of this decade but he just wasn't the best.
Let's stay positive and tell you why he was the second best player of the decade.
He won four NBA Titles, although only one he was the No. 1 player on the team. Bryant made the NBA All-Defensive team seven times this decade, First Team All NBA six times, and the All-Star team all 10 seasons, with one MVP.
1. Tim Duncan
I will be one of the leaders of the pack that says he is one of the most boring players in NBA history but only because he is so good.
There are plenty of boring players out there that just don't get noticed because they just aren't that good. Tim Duncan is the best player of the last 10 seasons and maybe one of the top 10 of all time.
Duncan won two MVP's, three NBA Titles, seven 1st Team All-NBA, seven 1st Team All-Defense, and seven Top 5 MVP finishes. Plain and simple, he played MVP caliber basketball the entire decade.
5. Barry Bonds
He had steroid issues, but who didn't in the past decade.
By just going on the numbers Bonds put up, he has to be at least be in the top 5.
Here's some numbers: He batted .322 with 772 runs scored.
4. Derek Jeter
Hands down one of the classiest and best baseball players we have ever seen.
Jeter has never come up in any steroid or off the field issues. He's batted .317 with nearly 2,000 hits, and 1,088 runs scored. He has always been a clutch postseason player and won two World Series Rings and went to four this decade.
3. Alex Rodriguez
He finally overcame the postseason issues he has always had, but it seems like he had to admit to his off the field issues to do it.
Either way, he has easily been one of the best players of the decade. He batted .304 with 435 HR's and 1,243 RBI.
2. Mariano Rivera
Disagree with this one all you want, but Rivera was simply the best pitcher of the decade.
He had a 2.08 ERA with 397 saves and dominated the postseason as well—one of the all time greats!
1. Albert Pujols
No question who the best all-around baseball player has been.
Pujols has put up Ruthian career numbers so far and hasn't been involved in any off the field or steroid talk either.
His decade numbers are as follows: He's batted .334 with 366 HR's and 1,112 RBI.
I can't wait to see how he follows this decade up and if how long he can continue on this tear.
5. Marvin Harrison
Although his last two years of the decade were almost non-existent, he was the best WR of the past 10 years. He made seven straight pro bowls, won a Super Bowl, and had a record-breaking year in 2002 with 143 catches.
4. Ray Lewis
The best defensive player of the decade. He also had seven pro bowl appearances and a Super Bowl ring this decade.
He dominated the decade; he dominated the only Super Bowl he was in and he won the MVP for it.
Lewis will go down as the BEST linebacker to ever play the game PERIOD! (Sorry LT)
3. LaDainian Tomlinson
The best RB of the decade, and the best player non-QB to play in this decade.
Tomlinson had five Pro Bowl appearances and one MVP. He also rushed for over 1,000 yds in each of his first eight seasons. Although this past year was his worst yardage wise, he still had 12 rushing TD's, helped lead the Chargers to a 13-3 record, and a first round bye.
We shall see if he gets that Super Bowl ring too.
2. Tom Brady
The second best QB of this past decade.
Winning-wise there was no player better than him at it. He reached the Super Bowl four times winning it three times including two Super Bowl MVP awards.
And since he became a starter and played for a full season, he's only missed the playoffs in his second year—first as a full-time starter.
Brady also has gone to four Pro Bowls, and won one MVP. He broke Peyton Manning's single-season TD record with an amazing 50, while leading the Pats to an undefeated regular season.
1. Peyton Manning
The BEST QB of the decade and if he continues on this pace, maybe the best of all time.
While Peyton has put up such incredible numbers this entire decade, the most impressive might be how he came back to beat the Pats and then go on to win the Super Bowl when everyone said that he just couldn't ever do it.
This past decade Manning won four MVP's which is the most all-time. He has lead the Colts to the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC with homefeild advantage so he has a shot to win Super Bowl number two and maybe Superbowl MVP number two as well.
He has made eight Pro Bowls and he broke Dan Marino's long-standing record with 49 TD's in 2004 before Brady broke that in '07.
But what makes him slightly better than Brady is the fact that his numbers are almost like no other. Check out his decade stats: Passing TD's 314, INT's 138, Yds 42,254, Rating 98.6 (and that's how hot his play at the QB position has been for the past decade, I feel privileged to have been able to watch him and I will continue to watch him in dominated and will tell my kids how great of a player i was able to see.
5. Calvin Johnson WR Georgia Tech
He was the second best WR of the decade in my eyes.
Although Georgia Tech never contended for a National Championship, Johnson routinely put up great numbers and made great catch after great catch. He finished just short of 3,000 yds with 13,100 yd receiving games and 28 TD's.
Johnson won the Biletnikoff Award for the nation's best WR in 2006, and just knew how to get it done even when he was double and triple covered.
4. Reggie Bush RB USC
He was one of the most electrifying college players to walk God's green earth.
Bush won the Heisman in 2005 and won the National Championship in '04 while splitting the title with LSU in 04.
If it wasn't for another man on my list, he would have won a piece of the National Championship in all three of his collegiate years.
3. Larry Fitzgerald WR Pittsburgh
He WAS the best WR of the decade.
Fitzgerald played so well in his two seasons at Pitt, he finished with 34 receiving TD's including an NCAA-record 18 straight games with at least one TD catch.
He won the Biletnikoff in 2003 and also finished second in the Heisman—huge for a WR.
2. Vince Young QB Texas
Vince had the most memorable performance of the decade in the Rose Bowl/ Nat'l Championship victory over the USC Trojans in 2005/06.
He rushed for 200 yds and threw for 267 in that amazing comeback 41-38 win. He was 30-2 in his career while finishing Top 5 in the school's history in the following categories: Passing Yds(5th), Passing TDs(4th), Rushing YDs(1st), Rushing TD's(5th).
1. Tim Tebow QB Florida
Not only the best player of the past decade but probably the best player I have seen and probably one of the best to play the college game.
Taking into consideration that he was a big time winning QB that not only started from his freshman year, but stayed all four. He ends his career as the SEC's all-time leader in Rushing TD's and points scored.
Tebow won two National Championships and a Hesiman Trophy, while being a finalist his last three years. Many people believe he doesn't have what it takes to be a AB at the next level but after watching him these past four years, I would never bet against this kid.
NCAA Basketball (Excluding all "1 and done" players)
5. Shane Battier-Duke
Battier, along with Jay Williams, lead the Duke Blue Devils to the 2001 National Championship, also winning NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding player that year too.
He was '00-'01 Player of the Year (AP, Naismith & Wooden) and his No. 31 jersey is hanging in the rafters at Cameron Indoor.
If you watched him play, you know how great he was, especially because he didn't have a selfish bone in his body. He was always on the floor whether it be diving for loose balls or taking countless charges.
What a great player he was to watch. He constantly did all the little things to help the Dukies win.
4. Jameer Nelson - St. Joe's (2000-2004)
A gritty little PG that lead a little college called St. Joe's to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tourney. Another one of those players that you had to watch to realize how great he was.
He won the 2004 player of the year (AP, Wooden & Naismith) and is St. Joe's all-time leader in points, steals and assists.
3. J.J Redick - Duke (2002-2006)
The best shooter I have ever seen hands down.
If he would have won a National Championship at Duke, I would probably have him higher on this list, maybe even at No. 1. That may be the only thing J.J wasn't able to do while at Duke.
Redick broke the all-time ACC scoring record before Hansbrough broke it a few years later. In '05-'06 he won the Player of the Year Award (AP, Wooden & Naismith).
The most impressive thing about his game was the fact that everywhere he went, he was abused and still managed to put it aside and dominate time after time.
I would even go as far as saying he was definitley the most hated player of the decade (although he was my second favorite) and maybe Top 3 of all-time in college basketball.
2. Jason (JAY) Williams - Duke (1999-2002)
Williams won a National Championship with the Dukies in 2001, National Player of the year in 2002, and a two-time first team All-American. But beyond those stats he was incredible to watch.
He is slighty ahead of J.J as my favorite college player of all time. His almost self-made comeback against the Terps in Maryland in 2001 (down 10 with one minute to go) is my favorite tape to watch over and over and over again. That was just one of the many unreal moments he gave to the nation over the course of his years at Duke.
He also averaged 25.7ppg in the 2001 NCAA Tourney.
1. Tyler Hansbrough - UNC (2005-2009)
You probably couldn't find another human on this planet that hates this guy more than me, and probably couldn't believe that as such a huge Duke fan that I am that I would even put him No. 1 and not bump him on spite alone.
Well I am here to say that he deserves it: he deserves the No. 1 player of the decade ranking.
I have to admit that IF he didn't win that NCAA Title last year, I wouldn't have him No. 1, but he did live up to expectations from the start. He went to two Final Fours, winning one. He was a four time first team All-American and is the ACC's all-time leader in scoring and rebounding.
Hansbrough averaged 20ppg and 8rpg over his four-year career and I have to admit, I give him alot of credit for coming back for his senior year to win the National Championship.
Best player of the decade although it was a TOUGH call!